Gambia’s government has announced the building of a $21 million (D966 million dalasis) power plant that will help stabilize the energy supply in the country that has been gripped by frequent power cuts.
The 20 megawatts power project in the country’s southwestern city of Brikama will be delivered by the Global Trading Group and STX Heavy Industries.
Vice President Fatoumata Tambajang led a ceremony laying the foundation stone for the construction of the power plant on Wednesday. The ceremony was also attended by ministers, diplomatic dignitaries, and other senior government officials.
The plant will be an HFO fired power plant, a relatively inexpensive fuel – it typically costs 30 percent less than distillate fuels.
The Islamic Development Bank will finance the development and the project is expected to deliver far-reaching benefits for the country, which is struggling to meet energy demands.
NAWEC is Gambia’s state-owned company and has a monopoly over electric and water supply. At least 52.8 percent of Gambians live without access to electricity.
Although low power supply to towns outside the Gambia’s capital, Banjul is frustrating residents, the prospects of project implementation starting are perhaps stronger than in previous decades.
A protest against NAWEC was postponed on Sunday after authorities denied organizers a permit to occupy a square adjacent to the power company’s corporate office.
The company has since been keeping the people posted on their work. A new 11-megawatt generator is being installed in the main power plant in Kotu, just outside Banjul. Engineers are waiting for additional parts and two Spanish Engineers to join them.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has vowed to resolve the country’s electricity crisis. The country has entered into an agreement with the utility supplier of the neighboring Senegal, SENELEC and the building of a hydro plant by China’s Sinohydro.
Gambia is on a frantic effort to attract investors but experts say unless the current energy situation is addressed, the country will struggle to charm businesses to move into the nation of fewer than two million people.